PAOLO Di Canio gave away his image rights so his players could receive a year’s free treatment at one of the most revered medical facilities in the world.
The Swindon Town boss has revealed that he came to an agreement with Italian rehabilitation centre Villa Stuart during the summer, which enables the clinic to use his name and face to promote their product in exchange for 12 months of comprehensive healthcare on the outskirts of Rome.
The deal has already allowed Andy Williams, Tommy Miller, Alan Navarro and Jay McEveley the chance to see a world-renowned specialist – Professor Pier Paolo Mariani – and receive treatment at a fraction of the cost of any equivalent procedure in this country.
Villa Stuart is a globally renowned rehab centre, which can list among its clients Chelsea, Manchester City, Barcelona and AC Milan. It is understood that Town still foot the bill for all players’ travel, while Di Canio himself said surgery is an additional expense.
Reacting to comments made by Paul Caddis earlier this week, which took a swipe at Swindon’s medical facilities, Di Canio stressed how he is both saving the club money and ensuring his squad gets the best possible care.
“Unfortunately in here we do not have any instruments - lasers or ultrasound because it costs a fortune and the club can’t spend £150,000 on equipment, I understand that,” he said.
“But this year even if they are Birmingham and I presume they have the best professionals in England, it is nothing to compare to my players who go to Villa Stuart - one of the best clinics in the world.
“There are only three recognised by FIFA in Europe, only three. They are the top professionals in the world.
“Even if Birmingham, Manchester United, Chelsea have fantastic professionals, they have nothing to compare with my connection.
“Just to be clear, because the people can have opinions and think ‘why in Italy? It costs money’, no. It doesn’t cost anything to the club, all thanks to the Di Canio image, a well-known person and a connection with the top professional in the world.
“It doesn’t cost one pound. Not one penny for treatment.
“We sent (McEveley) out there thanks to Paolo Di Canio’s connection and his image, and my image costs money.
“For free I gave my image to look after my players because with a big injury in here there is not the equipment. It is not a criticism of the club because it costs a fortune.
“In here to send a player for a simple scan, and not in a professional way because there is not one professional orthopaedist in Swindon for footballers, it is £250.
“When we have a big injury we need one, two or three every week to see the improvement. It costs money.
“In Italy, Andy Williams, Tommy Miller, Alan Navarro have been there two weeks and had three scans, three specialist visits from Mariani - the best surgeon for knees and shoulders in the world.
“It cost nothing. Like Tommy Miller said, he had a tear of seven centimetres and it destroys muscle. If he remained in here it would cost to us six or seven scans, money, equipment, sending him somewhere.
“He had two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon for two weeks and it cost zero. I have to be clear, zero, thanks to Paolo Di Canio who paid with his image.
“I made an agreement to give my image for one year. I didn’t want to say this before because I care about the health of my players.
“But now that some stupid comment came out and some stupid, idiot fans - one per cent because the others are loyal, thinking about football - we have to stop. If something comes out that’s not true I have to defend something.
“Not only does this come free but it is one of the best clinics in the world.
“Even if it cost a bit, it is nothing. The surgery for McEveley we informed ourselves before in London. We looked at a good orthopaedist in London. One night’s stay in a private clinic after the surgery and then back to the club, where we don’t have equipment to settle down the swelling, was nearly £10,000.
“I won’t say the exact money because the club knows but, in Italy, Mariani was not even one third for surgery, four days inside the clinic and until Saturday free scans, rehabilitation, therapy.
“It means two weeks cost one third of one operation and one night in a clinic. I speak with a bit emotion and anger because sometimes I have to think I need the strength to stay in such a pub environment.”